Sunday, February 25, 2007

Urban Land Use Zones: Managing Problems in and around the CBD

There are a number of problems faced in the Central Business District area:

1. Lack of Space and High costs of Land
Due to the accessibility and prime location of land in the CBD, the resulting high density land use and competition for available buildings means that the costs of land and consquently rents are very high. National chain stores therefore dominate these areas as they are able to outcompete smaller, independent stores which cannot afford to pay such high rents.

2. Urban decline
With the growth of out-of-town shopping centres, some CBD's have seen the outward movement of many of the larger stores to take prime sites in these out-of-town complexes where there is room for expansion. The cheaper land in these suburban locations also enables stores to operate on a larger scale and pass on the benefits of economies of scale to customers (for more on this see this excellent article from Geography in the News). As stores move out, this has led to the decline of some CBD's. Shop units made vacant by large chain stores moving out, may stay empty as smaller / independent stores cannot afford the high land rents, whilst other chain stores are preferring to locate in the out-of-town locations. Empty buildings can attract crime and vandalism and gradually CBD's affected by this start to suffer urban decline.

General Urban Problems

1. Pollution
With the high volumes of traffic and congestion and the high numbers of pedestrians using the central area, problems of noise, visual and atmospheric pollution have become an issue in some CBDs.

2. Traffic Congestion
With the great accesibility of the CBD and the increase in car ownership, urban traffic problems have become a real issue in many cities.

A Case Study of Traffic Management in an Urban Area: Cambridge

As part of the syllabus you are expect to know a case study of manging problems in urban areas. Our case study is Traffic Management in Cambridge.

Before we look at Cambridge specifically, lets consider the general causes and effects of Traffic problems in urban areas.

Why has Traffic in urban areas increased?
* increased car ownership (due to an increase in disposable income)
* reduced use of public transport
* an increase in commuting (for work, shopping, entertainment etc.)

What are the problems that result?
As well as the problems of visual, atmospheric and noise pollution, the environment is also affected as more land is required to build car parks, widen roads and build new roads to cope with the volumes of traffic. Congestion resulting in traffic jams can significantly delay travel times and result in people being late for work as well as valuable time being wasted whilst trying to locate parking spaces etc. An increased risk of accidents, health problems resulting from the increased fumes (particularly irritating respiratory illnesses such as asthma) and increased frustration / discomfort from overcrowding on public transport are some of the social problems experienced.

Traffic Management in Cambridge
So what is the specific problem in Cambridge and what is being done to try and manage the traffic in Cambridge? Although you will need to refer to your class notes for details, see the powerpoint below for a reminder of the key points of this case study.

Other Traffic Management Strategies

The London Congestion Charge has been in place since 2003. Although there the benefits of the scheme have been recognised - there have also been criticisms with reference to the impact of the charge on businesses. With the recent doubling in size of the London Congestion Charge zone there has been much in the news recently on proposals for 'road pricing' nationally.

Follow up links:
Technology and Traffic Management: London Case Study
Technology and Traffic Management: Global Case Studies
Reducing Congestion in Cities (BBC Bitesize)
An interesting article here on the London Congestion Charge and implications for other cities
UK's congestion schemes (BBC)
How would road charging work? (BBC)

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